The 9 Best Alternatives to Paper Towels of 2021

Wipe up spills sustainability

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The Rundown
Soft organic cotton that is strong enough to tackle any clean up.
A minimal design and multipurpose towel that is a staple for every household.
This biodegradable loofah is not just for showering, you can use it for your dishes too!
Dry dishes or wipe spills with beautiful Swedish dishcloths from Three Bluebirds.
One hundred percent sustainable bamboo makes for an absorbent towel.
A biodegradable, multipurpose, cotton towel at a great price.
These Unpaper Towels cling together and are more durable than your average paper towel roll.
Best Wet Wipe Alternative:
Saged.Home Reusable Wipes at Goldune.com
If you need to disinfect, fill Goldune’s wipes and jar for a long lasting product.
Organic cotton napkins that are perfect for any occasion.

Paper towels have many great uses, whether it's cleaning up the nasty spill on the table or using some to dry your dishes, however they are incredibly wasteful and unsustainable. Around 13 billion pounds are used in the United States each year, and according to The Atlantic, Americans spend about $5.7 billion on paper towels for use at home. To cut down on the waste and cost of paper towels, you can switch to reusable ‘unpaper’ towels, cotton dish cloths, or even reusable rolls.

You can go further and also avoid using paper towels in your cleaning or while traveling. So cut down on any wipes or non-reusable sponges with the following alternatives to single-use towels, and you can invest your time and money in more versatile, durable options. If you want to go even further into a zero-waste kitchen, Treehugger is here to help guide you.

Here are best alternatives to paper towels:

Best Overall: Mioeco Reusable Unpaper Towels

Micoeco Unpaper Towel

Mioeco's Reusable Unpaper Towels can last years more than your average paper towel, and also improve in absorbency each time they are washed. The towels are GOTS certified, which is a worldwide textile processing standard for organic fibers and includes social and ecological criteria. Another plus of Mioeco’s towels is that they're produced in a solar-powered facility with carbon-neutral manufacturing.

The towels come in a pack of 10 and are each 10 x 10 inches, but Mioceo also offers a 20-pack. You can use them as napkins, just for drying dishes or cleaning spills.

Best for Drying Dishes: Public Goods Cotton Kitchen Towels

Public Goods Cotton Kitchen Towels

Public Goods proves themselves the best for dishes with these organic kitchen towels. The towels are made from Turkish cotton, an absorbent fabric that's multifunctional, whether it comes to cleaning spills or drying dishes. They are even gentle on skin, as they are free from harmful pesticides and dyes.

The towels come in a minimal design and also include a small loop to allow you to hang them up for drying. The cotton towels are also GOTS-certified and come in a two-piece set.

Best for Scrubbing: Clean Planetware Mayan Loofah

Clean Planetware Mayan Loofah

“Scrub away your troubles,” Package Free Shop jests in its description, but the Mayan Loofah may be able to do just that as they serve as a replacement for your plastic dishwashing brush or sponge. The loofahs are procured from a single-family farm in Guatemala and get the ‘Mayan’ name due to the seed being from a Mayan heirloom variety. They are also grown free from pesticides and herbicides. 

The loofah will come flat, but once it is rinsed with water, it will expand. The loofah is also completely compostable and biodegradable and also comes at an affordable cost.

Best for Cleaning Up Spills: Three Bluebirds Reusable Swedish Dishcloth

Sunflower Reusable Swedish Dishcloth

This would not be the first time Treehugger recommends Swedish dishcloths or Three Bluebirds, which is a testament to their value. These dishcloths are made up of a highly absorbent mix of cellulose and cotton, and also dries fast so bacteria does not breed. They can be used to wash dishes, but more importantly, can clean up spills. After each use, you can squeeze out the leftover moisture, or if you want to clean them, you can wash them but must air dry them. 

A bonus to these dishcloths is that they come in a multitude of designs, each screen printed with only water-based inks. Some of my personal favorite designs are their Lemon Limes (view on Three Bluebirds) or Daffodils (view on Three Bluebirds) dishcloths.

Best Reusable Towel: Seedling by Grove Reusable Paper Towel

Seedling by Grove Reusable Paper Towel

If you can’t find yourself switching completely to cloth rolls, Grove Collaborative’s Reusable Paper Towel could be the one for you, and they serve as an affordable option. These paper towels are made from 100 percent sustainable bamboo and are more sustainable and durable than the regular paper towel. Bamboo is generally more sustainable because it regenerates faster than trees. Plus, with these towels, you can wipe up any spill and then rinse and reuse it for the next time. 

Grove Collaborative is a Certified B Corporation.

Best Budget Towel: Zero Waste Club Organic Cotton Dish Towel

Zero Waste Club Organic Cotton Dish Towel

These dish towels are made up of 100 percent organic cotton and were produced with fertilizer during the farming of the cotton. The towel is 15.7 x 15.7 inches and comes in five different colors. It is a versatile product as the organic cotton is great for drying dishes and wiping hands too. 

To take care of your towel, it is recommended to machine wash it on the delicate cycle or hand wash, and afterward, you can air dry or tumble dry. It's not recommended to use fabric softener as it could affect how the towels dry. At the end of the towels' lifecycle, you can cut them up and add them to your compost bin.

Best Reusable Roll: Marley’s Monsters Rolled Unpaper Towels

Marley's Monsters Reusable Unpaper Towel Roll

Marley’s Monsters Rolled Unpaper Towels come in a 12-pack or 24-pack and offer a variety of prints for the towels. Made of single-ply 100 percent cotton flannel, with seared edges for durability and an absorbency that increases after the first few washes, the towels are a great replacement for the average paper towel. These towels naturally cling together, are bundled around a cardboard tube, and can be used with most paper towel holders. This roll is more on the costly side but will save you money in the long run.

Marley’s Monsters also holds the ‘BRING rethink’ certification, which means the company is practicing conservation and efficiency efforts in categories like Water Conservation and Materials and Waste Management.

Best Wet Wipe Alternative: Saged.Home Reusable Disinfectant & Cleaning Wipes

Saged.Home Reusable Disinfectant & Cleaning Wipes

Disinfectant wipes may currently be in demand, but that does not mean you have to use single-use disposable wipes. Goldune’s Reusable Disinfectant and Cleaning Wipes come with 18 cotton flannel wipes in a glass jar. The glass jar has fill lines for when you make your own cleaning solution from white vinegar, water, essential oils, and a little bit of vodka.

But if you don’t feel like creating your own solution, Goldune also sells a 128-ounce All-Purpose cleaner (view on Goldune) to refill your jar. The product also comes in sustainable packaging, and the cloth and glass should last for a long time before you need to recycle them.

Best Cloth Napkin: Coyuchi Sonoma Textured Organic Napkins

Coyuchi Sonoma Textured Organic Napkins

Coyuchi’s Sonoma Textured Organic Napkins are reusable napkins that serve as a great replacement for the normal paper napkin at your dinner table. It is a set of four napkins with dimensions of 20 x 20 inches, with 100 percent organic cotton grown and woven in India. These napkins are not only GOTS certified but also made in a factory that recycles 98 percent of its wastewater. Another bonus to these napkins is when each package is shipped, it is shipped and packed with sustainable methods. 

Like other reusable cloth towels or napkins, the product is machine-washable to be used plenty of times in your future table setting.

Final Verdict

Our top pick to replace paper towels are the Mioeco Reusable Unpaper Towels (view on Amazon). Or if you want something that can also express your personal taste, consider a Swedish dishcloth with a fun print (view at Package Free Shop).  

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We strive to make it easier for our readers to live more sustainably, including researching and recommending the best alternatives to single-use disposable items. 

Author Gabriella Sotelo is a journalist who covers the environment, climate change, and agriculture.